Jillian Michaels on the death of paid-for media
March 17, 2014 | 12:41 pm
By Joanna Cabot
I am avid fan of fitness guru Jillian Michaels, and I listen to her podcast regularly. This week’s episode, coming just days after the news that pioneer exercise video retailer Collage Video is closing, was especially timely—Michaels does not address the Collage Video situation per se, but she does open her show with a segment on the death of paid-for media.
Well, the sort of death. Michaels is careful to distinguish that media is still being paid for, but she acknowledges that the form is changing. She relates signing a new deal recently for three more years of DVDs, and then realizing that a video of hers on YouTube (which was put there legally by Lion’s Gate Media, her distributor) had over 5 million views. This was a paradigm shift for her. She says that for decades, getting her own daytime talk show was the holy grail. And now that Netflix, Hulu et al have been edging into cable’s dominance, the number one daytime show averages just under 2 million—less than half of what she’s getting with her YouTube stuff.
She further explains that her book situation has changed too. She had two bestsellers, and then the digital revolution hit. Her last book did not make the best-seller lists because her publisher counted only hard copies, but if you include the digital sales, it sold more than her other books combined. She realizes—smartly, I think—that the eyeballs matter more than the container and seemed happy to have the digital audience.
The most interesting part, to me, was when she turned to her twenty-something sound guy, Jake, and asked him when the last time he bought music was. Jake was careful to clarify that while does not ‘buy’ music per se, he does pay for music, via subscription. Similarly, he does pay for Netflix and Hulu memberships. It may not be the same thing as buying a disk and taking it home. But digital models can and do collect actual money from paying customers, and it seems like this may be Michael’s next step. She envisions setting up an all-you-can-eat workout video website where you pay a flat monthly fee and can watch anything you want to. I’d be on board with that!
The discussion was a thoughtful one, and I appreciate Michaels making an effort to think about this smartly. As she remarked when discussing her daytime show dream—those days are gone. All anybody can do is try to move forward instead of clinging to a dream that isn’t going to happen anymore.